Monday, July 20, 2009

El camino (Part I)

As stated earlier, I decided to embark on one final voyage around and about the Iberian peninsula before returning to the states. I had planned to go to Marrakech, Burgos, and San Sebastián with my brother and sister, but from there I had no clear idea of where I would wander in the 3 weeks before my flight from Madrid to JFK. The only thing I knew for sure was that I had to make it to Santiago de Compostela, the final destination in the famous Camino de Santiago. Originally a religious pilgrimage, this is a path that traverses the northern coast of Spain, through the lush, green (rainy!) regions of Basque country, Asturias and Galicia, and culminates in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The result of minimal planning and paying heed to impulsive whims was an adventure from Morocco to Burgos to San Sebastián to Biarritz (Fr) to Bilbao to Oviedo to Santiago to Barcelona, and finally, back to Madrid. And despite a couple bumps in the road, like the weeklong aftermath of Moroccan cuisine, and some rainy days up north, it was an incredible way to round off my two-years in Europe.



Jake lazing away a hot afternoon on the terrace of Riad Amiris

Mint tea and fresh baked brioche served to us by the lovely French couple that owned the Riad

In short, Marrakech was intense. We stayed in the medina, a short walk to the marketplace- a giant labyrnth covered by straw to block out the north african sun, where one can easily get swallowed up for hours on end. Our riad was the perfect, tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle outside.

Biarritz, France

Biarritz is in the south of France in the Basque region ... equal parts charming French city, surfer enclive. Perfect for a day at the beach or at a café with le journal.

Bilbao, Spain

I finally got around to visiting the Guggenheim museum. I found it an impressive, almost aggressive structure. I recently learned there is another Frank Gehry project at the Marqués de Riscal bodega in La Rioja. Funny. I just imagine a mini-guggenheim in the middle of the vineyards in Spain.

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